Marusya Bociurkiw

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Marusya Bociurkiw
Born (1958-05-25) May 25, 1958 (age 61)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
NationalityUkrainian Canadian
Alma materNSCAD University, York University, University of British Columbia
Known forFilm-maker, writer, media studies scholar
Notable work
Comfort Food for Breakups (2007), This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine (2015)

Marusya Bociurkiw (born May 25, 1958) is a Ukrainian Canadian film-maker, writer, scholar, and activist. She has published five books, including a novel, poetry collection, short story collection, and a memoir. Her narrative and critical writing have been published in a variety of journals and collections. Bociurkiw has also directed and co-directed ten films and videos which have been screened at film festivals on several continents. Her work appears in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the National Archives of Canada, and many university libraries. She founded or co-founded the media organizations Emma Productions, Winds of Change Productions, and The Studio for Media Activism & Critical Thought. She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada where she is an associate professor in the RTA School of Media Studies, Ryerson University, Toronto. She teaches courses on social justice media, activist media production, and gender/race/queer theories of time-based and digital media. She is also Director of The Studio for Media Activism & Critical Thought at Ryerson University.

Early years[edit]

Bociurkiw was born in Edmonton, Alberta to Vera Anne (née Wasylyshyn)[1] and Bohdan Rostyslav Bociurkiw,.[2][3][4][5] Her father was co-founder of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies. Ukrainian history and culture were central to Bociurkiw's childhood, and instilled in her a sense of Ukrainian identity and history, as well as a desire to rewrite that history.[6] This is a common thread throughout Bociurkiw's books, essays, and films: reflecting critically and intersectionally on what it means to be Ukrainian, Canadian, feminist, and lesbian.[7]

Education and career[edit]

Bociurkiw completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts (1982) at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University. While there, she discovered feminist art and the new field of video art. She studied with Bruce Barber and Garry Neill Kennedy. She was part of what Barber has called "the gathering momentum of a feminist movement at NSCAD",[8] co-founding the Women Artists' File at the NSCAD Library, which later inspired the Toronto-based Women's Art Resource Centre. She was active on the board of the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax, where she curated a Toronto-Halifax exchange of activist performance art entitled "Performance As Resistance" (1985), which featured dub poets Lillian Allen and Clifton Joseph, humourist Sheila Gostick and Halifax a capella group Four The Moment.[9] After graduating from NSCAD, she moved to Toronto and in 1983, collectively produced the documentary, Our Choice, A Tape About Teenage Mothers (Women's Media Alliance). In 1984, she co-founded the feminist video collective, Emma Productions, which produced several works, including No Small Change: The Story of the Eaton's Strike (dir. Ruth Bishop & Marusya Bociurkiw 1985) and Bullets for a Revolution (dir. Marusya Bociurkiw 1988). These films were produced and screened in the context of the dynamic feminist media culture in 1980's Toronto.[10] No Small Change: The Story of the Eaton's Strike and Bociurkiw's own film Playing with Fire (1986) were included in a 1989-1990 touring exhibition called Rebel Girls: A Survey of Canadian Feminist Videotapes 1974-1988. These were followed by several more single-authored works, including Unspoken Territory, about the history of racial profiling in Canada; and the more recent This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine (2015).[11] This film uses interviews with LGBT Ukrainians to explore the role of queer activists in Ukraine's Euromaidan Revolution and the Russian occupation that followed. Bociurkiw's films have screened at film festivals on several continents.[citation needed]

Bociurkiw is also an award-winning writer and media studies scholar. Her narrative and critical writing have been widely published in such journals and collections as Border/Lines, Fuse, Rites Magazine, The Journey Prize Anthology (McClelland & Stewart), Dykewords (Women's Press), Queer Looks (Routledge), Two Lands, New Vision (Coteau) and Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home (University of Toronto Press). In 1994, Bociurkiw published her first book, The Woman Who Loved Airports (Press Gang) a collection of short stories, followed by a poetry collection, Halfway to the East (Lazara Press 1999). In 1999, she completed an MA in Social and Political Thought, at York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada). Bociurkiw's creative and scholarly careers have always been intertwined. While teaching sessional positions, completing a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia (2005) and later working as a Professor in the Radio and Television Arts (RTA) School of Media, Ryerson University (2007 to present), she completed her first novel, The Children of Mary (Inanna 2006), and her award-winning memoir, Comfort Food for Breakups (Arsenal 2007).[12] In 2011, she published the academic book, Feeling Canadian: Television Nationalism & Affect (Wilfrid Laurier University Press).[13]

Bociurkiw promotes feminist and anti-racist pedagogy and research through the Studio for Media Activism & Critical Thought, a research hub at Ryerson University that blurs the boundaries between media art, activism, and scholarly investigation. It organizes a yearly speakers' series,[14] symposia, student mentorship, and an online graduate journal. In 2015, the Studio's Speaker Series—which is open to Ryerson students, faculty and the public—featured Indigenous Scholar, Dr. Raven Sinclair; media artist, Deanna Bowen; anti-poverty activists, Cathy Crowe and Dr. Alex Abramovitch; and disability studies scholar and activist, Dr. Eliza Chandler.


As founder of the feminist video collective Emma Productions, and as an out queer, Bociurkiw was very active in the Toronto and Vancouver feminist movement, peace, and LGBT social movements throughout the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. In the 1980s, she was active in Women's Action for Peace, International Women's Day Coalition, the pro-choice movement, the Latin American solidarity movement, and Women for Economic Justice While living in Montreal, she co-designed and co-taught the first course on LGBT cinema in Canada, at Concordia University, with Thomas Waugh. She was among the first group of women in Canada to enter the male-dominated field of media art, and to use film and video to draw attention to women's, labour and other issues.[15]

Bociurkiw's most recent film—This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine—highlights the role of LGBT activists in the 2013 Euromaidan and 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which culminated in the expulsion of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. LGBT people in Ukraine had a lot to lose from the rise of Russian political influences there.[16] As a result of the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014—bringing it under the Russian LGBT propaganda law—many LGBT Ukrainians from Crimea and Donetsk were forced to flee to safe houses in Kiev and Odessa. Though the law criminalizing same sex sexual activity under Soviet Union law was revoked when Ukraine achieved independence in 1991, there remains a high level of social censure. Political leaders in Ukraine, before and after Euromaidan, have been reluctant to pass anti-discrimination legislation, despite pressure to comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. After many delays, a law banning workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity was finally passed on November 12, 2015. Russian and religious influences continue to threaten the safety and social recognition of LGBT people in Ukraine. Bociurkiw's film draws attention to this struggle and gives voice to the heroes of the Ukrainian LGBT rights movement.

Bociurkiw continues to engage in activist research, teaching, and production; initiating courses like Social Justice Media and #Activism. In 2016, she published the article "Big Affect: The Ephemeral Archive of Second Wave Feminist Video Collectives in Canada," the result of several years' research into Canadian feminist media history and its intersections with broadcast technologies and activism.[17]


Literary works[edit]

  • The Woman Who Loved Airports (Press Gang Publishers, 1994)
  • Halfway to the East (Lazara Press, 1999)[18]
  • The Children of Mary (Inanna Publications, 2006)
  • Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2007)[19][20]
  • Feeling Canadian: Television Nationalism & Affect (Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2011)[21]
  • Recipes for Trouble: A World of Food Stories, Culinary Memories, and Ingredients Queerly Political (2012–2013)
  • The Media Studies Blog (, 2010–2014)
  • A Girl, Waiting (2015)[22]
  • Bringing Back Memory in Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians Writing Home (University of Toronto Press, 2016)


  • Our Choice, A Tape About Teenage Mothers (Vtape, 1983)
  • Stronger than Before (Vtape, 1984)
  • No Small Change (Vtape, 1985)
  • Playing With Fire (Vtape, 1986)
  • Bullets for a Revolution (Vtape, 1988)
  • Night Visions (Vtape, 1989)
  • Bodies in Trouble (Vtape, 1990)
  • Nancy Drew & the Mystery of the Haunted Body (Vtape, 1999)
  • Unspoken Territory (Moving Images Distribution, 2001)
  • Flesh and Blood:A Journey Between East and West or What's the Ukrainian Word for Sex? (Moving Images Distribution, 2006)
  • This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights and the War in Ukraine (Winds of Change Production, 2015)


Bociurkiw's memoir, Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl, received Foreword Magazine's INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award (2007),[23] the Independent Publisher Book Awards (silver) for Best Autobiography/Memoir (2008);[24] and was short-listed for the Golden Crown Literary Award, Lesbian Short Story Essay Collection, and the prestigious Kobzar Literary Award and the Lambda Literary Award (2008).[25][26] Bociurkiw was the 2013 recipient of the Deans' Scholarly, Research and Creative Activity Award at Ryerson University. In 2014, she was artist-in-residence at Can Serrat International Artists' Centre in Spain, and a research fellow at the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Kiev, Ukraine. Her short story, "A Girl, Waiting," was short-listed for the 2015 CBC Creative Non-Fiction Award.[27]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Vera Bociurkiw". Edmonton Journal. 2013.
  2. ^ Bociurkiw, Michael (November 1, 1998). "A Personal Reflection Lives Lived: Bohdan R Bociurkiw, ,". The Ukrainian Weekly. LXVI (44). Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Corley, Felix (November 5, 1998). "Obituary: Professor Bohdan Bociurkiw". Independent. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "Bociurkiw, Bohdan". Internet Encyclopedia of Ukraine. 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  5. ^ Krawchuk, Andrii (2002). "Church and State in the USSR: A Bio-Bibliography of Bohdan R. Bociurkiw, 1955–2007". Harvard Ukrainian Studies. 26 (1/4): 23–49. JSTOR 41036847.
  6. ^ Grekul, Lisa, "Pedagogies in Practice" in Sugars, Cynthia ed., Home-work: Postcolonialism, Pedagogy, and Canadian Literature, University of Ottawa Press Ottawa: 2004. 378
  7. ^ Grekul, Lisa; Ledohowski, Lindy, eds. (2016). "Introduction Ukrainian Canadian Poet-Pedagogues". Unbound: Ukrainian Canadians writing home. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 10–11.
  8. ^ Barber, Bruce, "Introduction" in Barber ed., NSCAD: The 80's, Halifax: Anna Leonowens Gallery 2006. 10
  9. ^ Barber, Bruce, "Introduction" in Barber ed., NSCAD: The 80's, Halifax: Anna Leonowens Gallery 2006. 10.
  10. ^ Masters, Philinda, "Women, Culture & Communications", in Pierson, Ruth & Griffin Cohen, Marjorie eds., Canadian Women's Issues: Volume I: Strong Voices, Lorimer 1993. 401.
  11. ^ Costa, Daniela (August 10, 2015). ""This is Gay Propaganda" highlights LGBT life in Ukraine". After Ellen. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  12. ^ Falkner, Julie (2007). "Book Reviews: Comfort Food for Breakups". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  13. ^ Yates, Dana (2011). "New book tracks television's role in Canadian nationalism". Ryerson University. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  14. ^ Syal, Richa; Kwan, Truman (March 23, 2015). "Dames making games at Ryerson". The Eyeopener.
  15. ^ Beard, William, & White, Jerry, North of Everything: English Canadian Cinema Since 1980, Edmonton: University of Alberta Press 2002. 408.
  16. ^ Costa, Daniela (August 10, 2015). ""This is Gay Propaganda" highlights LGBT life in Ukraine". AfterEllen. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  17. ^ Camera Obscura 2016 Volume 31, Number 3 93: 5-33
  18. ^ D'Souza, Irene (2004). "Book Review: Halfway to the East". Quill and Quire. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  19. ^ Falkner, Julie (2007). "Book Review: Comfort Food for Breakups". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  20. ^ Klymasz, Robert B. (2007). "Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl (review)". Canadian Ethnic Studies. 39 (3): 246.
  21. ^ Viteo, Kayley; Desrochers, Nadine (2012). "Book Review: Feeling Canadian by Marusya Bociurkiw. J-Source: The Canadian Journalism Project. Posted by Belinda Alzner". J-Source. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  22. ^ Balcerzak, Natalie (2015). "Sexuality and Sweets: Ryerson professor Marusya Bociurkiw earns runner-up title for CBC's Literary Non-Fiction Award". The Eyeopener. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  23. ^ "Foreword Reviews' 2007 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalists Autobiography & Memoir (Adult Nonfiction)". Foreword Reviews. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  24. ^ "Announcing 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards Results: 12th Annual IPPY Awards to be presented in Los Angeles on May 30th". Independent Publisher. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  25. ^ "Kobzar Literary Award: Shortlisted Books and Publishers". Shevchenko Foundation. 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  26. ^ Cerna, Antonio Gonzalez (2007). "20th Annual Lambda Literary Awards". Lambda Literary. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  27. ^ "2015 CBC Creative Non-Fiction Prize: The Shortlist". August 31, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2016.

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